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Random Thoughts 2

Posted by Deborah Courtnell

Random Thoughts Following  a Heatwave, Part 2


     When the  first rain fell a week ago it wasn't the torrential storms we'd been promised. No thunder. No lightning. No flash floods. No cataclysmic events at all. Just a soft pitter-patter on the window panes. More of a gentle, knock-knock reminder that we live in the South of England and not the South of France.

     Sometimes, I do wonder what the Met Office, with its fancy gadgetry and fancy weather girls and gesticulating and leaping and prancing weather boys, sometimes, I wonder what is it actually for? What is it about? What, I wonder, is the point of the Met Office?

    They were very excited about the Perseid Meteor shower and became very animated on the subject of cloud cover, notifying us nearly two hours in advance that the night already outside the house might be clear enough to watch the Perseid Meteor shower.

      That's because they do have a  handle on weather that has recently happened and weather that is occurring outside my window as it occurs. 

     But I don't need the Met Office for that. I can see the weather out of my window. That's what we have windows for. 


     I need the Met Office to forecast the weather and tell me three, four, five days in advance what is going to come out of the sky and land on me.

    And I'm sure there are thousands of people who would have liked some prior warning of the heatwave so they could make plans and book their summer holidays accordingly. i.e. stay at home for the good bits, go elsewhere during the bad. 

     But did anyone hear the Met Office mention the heatwave in advance of its arrival?

     No. 

    If the Met Office is capable of predicting big weather events then it's now too scared to say so. It's still red-faced from the humiliation of Spring 2009 when it predicted a red-hot BBQ Summer and all the shops shouted, 'Yipee,' and stocked up on on thongs, tongs and charcoal and you couldn't buy an umbrella or a plug-in heater for miles and the whole summer was a washout and the sun did not shine until September...

     Thanks to digital TV, Shedley and I can opt to watch the regional news and weather for London rather than the South.

     This a) prevents me getting homesick for London as I'm reminded of the horrors of traffic congestion, non air-conditioned public transport and engineering works  b) keeps us up to date on the antics of Boris Johnson and c) provides weather as mere entertainment rather than news which, in truth, is all it really is.

     If the weather for London is dull then sometimes we watch BBC Scotland just for a laugh.

        Unless it's real weather - gales, thunderstorms, hurricanes, heatwaves, blizzards, I try not to get too involved weather.

     Weather is Shedley's department. Shedley is deep into weather. He has weather machines in the plural. Well he is a gadget freak like the prancing boys at the Met Office And he's big on windspeeds, cloud formations and barometric pressure. 
    
     In fact, the Met Office would do well to consult Shedley when they want to know what's going on up there.

      If weather was  a form of Freemasonry which, if the Met Office is anything to go by it may very well be, then Shedley would by now have advanced to its most supreme highest level of handshaking and prancing about. 

     Come to think of it the Met Office would do as well to consult Shedley when they want to know what's going on out there.

     Shedley studies the weather. Not just our local weather either but, via numerous weather apps on his ipad, the weather as it happening simultaneously to people we know in other parts of the world. People like the Samsonites in Denmark, the Down Unders in New South Wales and the Sun-Drenched Islanders in Malta.


     They've all been coming in for a bit of weather recently, but nothing quite like our stonking, stupendously miraculous and phantasmagorical heatwave. 

    Shedley refers to his weather machine as a Weather Station in relation to which he is at once master and servant. 

     The Weather station has flashing numbers and, all too frequently, pictures of pulsing, dark, menacing clouds. The weather station receives coded information from its three weather agents  in the shape of white plastic transmitters, strategically located around the garden and often relocated at will by Shedley. 

     Once I saw one from a distance on the bird table and became briefly excited that we had a new exotic blocky-shaped white bird visiting us. When it did not move I feared it had died and went to investigate...

   Sometimes the transmitters fall from some precarious perch on which Shedley has placed them, desirous of testing the climactic conditions in that particular cranny of our back garden and then I'm laiable to step on them. Often I've been accused of knocking them off a nail from which he has delicately suspended them. 

     This annoys him because the transmitters are not in the garden for fun, this is not a frivolous enterprise.  The transmitters are scientific devices; they are key elements in Shedley's ongoing investigation into the facts as opposed to the fictions of the natural world. 

    Just as Shedley tests his various time keeping devices against the hourly toll of the BBC news or true Greenwich Mean Time or, occasionally, (I've actually seen him do this) by telephoning the speaking clock, so he tests the weather stations. 

     Just that he does it the wrong way around.

    For example, if I come inside from  being outside and say something earth shattering like,
'It's suddenly got very chilly.' Then, rather than simply agree with me like most people would, Shedley will rise up and consult the Great God Weather Station on the wall. 

     If, compared to when he last consulted it, the weather station is showing a three or four degree drop in temperature as recorded by one of the blinking transmitters in the garden, then Shedley will nod sagely and agree with me and say something comforting like: 'Yes Darling it is.'
   
     Or, better still, 'I'll switch the heating on.'

     But if no such significant drop in temperature is indicated then, despite my own professional biological flesh and warm-blooded mammalian factual report of weather conditions outside of the house as having deteriorated and turned Wintry, then Shedley will say, 'No it hasn't. It's exactly the same as it was yesterday.'

     An unexpected pleasure of the heatwave has been the twist and spice it has lent our weather debates,  especially when it comes to the difference between the heat in the shade and the heat in the sun. 

     This is  because every time Shedley said, in a voice of mild awe: 'It's risen to 31.5 degrees,' I would reply:  'And if that's in the shade imagine how hot it is in the sun! Why don't you put your transmitters in the sun?' 
     
     My question appeared to antagonise Shedley because, apparently, the garden's temperature, the nation's temperature, the earth's temperature and for all I know the temperature on Mars and the Moon is only ever taken in the shade to assure some kind of universal and inter Galactic consistency I suppose. But then how do we know how hot it really is? I have been tempted on several occasions to stick one of his transmitters in the sun and see what happens. 

     Oh well, too late now. The heatwave is at an end and we're back to the more familiar and predictable-unpredictability of wet, not so wet and very wet indeed. The Met Office and Shedley can both relax: I will not melt his transmitters - I'll be too busy watching the weather out of my window.

15.08.2013

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Chalkhill Blue, male




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